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Archive for January, 2011

Quickie Question: One Last Thing

Monday, January 17th, 2011
By Twistie

The end is something people obsess about. You always hear them talking about things like what’s the last meal they want to eat, or what they would do if they knew they had just one more day to live. It’s an interesting snapshot of priorities and belief systems. But one thing pretty much never gets asked… and I’m here to ask that question right now.

If you knew you could complete just one more crafts project before shuffling off this mortal coil, what would it be?

Me? I would want a project that takes a while and is kind of spectacular. I’m thinking I’d make a lace tablecloth, possibly using one of Bridget Cook’s Russian-style patterns.

What about you?

All Wrapped Up

Friday, January 14th, 2011
By Twistie

Making jewelry by hand is a rewarding craft. For one thing, there are so many ways to go about it. If you’ve been considering trying your hand at playing with wire, then I have a book for you.

Weave, Wrap, C oil: Creating Artisan Wire Jewelry by Jodi Bombardier is a guide to manipulating silver and/or copper wire into spectacular jewelry that you’ll love to wear and that your friends and family will love to receive as gifts.

With twenty-five projects to get you started, introducing you to new techniques, you’ll find plenty of inspiration between the covers of this book.

Best of all, it’s on sale at Amazon for just $15.61 (regularly priced $22.95), and qualifies for Super Saver shipping.

It just doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

The Cat’s Meow

Thursday, January 13th, 2011
By Twistie

If you’re a cat lover like me, I’m betting you’ll love these adorable catnip toys. I wish I’d made them! But then the sewing would probably be all wonky. If you want to learn how to make them, head on over to and check out the instructions there.

Or maybe crochet is more your game. That doesn’t prevent you from being able to drug… er… entertain your cat with a bit of nip! Just head over to yumyumyarn’s Etsy shop for a free PDF of instructions for this fabulous fish skeleton catnip toy.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about how cats too big to be house pets react to catnip, this helpful video (pointed out to me by my good friend and partner in crime, Fabrisse) may answer your questions. What’s more, pretty much anyone can make the toys featured in the film! Of course you might not really enjoy cleaning up after it when your cat is done playing.

Inspiration Gallery: Smocking

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
By Twistie

via Northumberland Hills Stitching Guild

Many of us have seen smocking mostly on children’s clothes of a certain era. As a small child, I had a couple dresses that looked just about like the above illustration. It’s easy to see why it was so popular for little children of both genders. It’s attractive but launders reasonably well, and it obviates the need for fussy closures on small, squirmy children.

But when smocking started out, it was worn as much by adults as by children, specifically by adult male laborers. More fanciful stitch work on finer fabrics would be worn by wealthy people on their linens, as in this detail of a sixteenth century painting by Ambrosius Holbein:


Good News, Bad News

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011
By Twistie

The good news? Is that the cold that has been dogging me since before Christmas has not officially turned into bronchitis.

The bad news? It still hasn’t gone away.

I’m headed back to bed.

Thanks to my buddy K, I have a lovely, special, handmade quilt designed just for me and Mr. Twistie to snuggle under.


Quickie Question: What’s the Most Bizarre Reaction You’ve Gotten?

Monday, January 10th, 2011
By Twistie

I’m a big fan of Project Runway. Not only is it full of interesting design, the runway critiques are often deeply amusing in a train-wrecky sort of way. Once in a while, I even agree with the judges. One of those judges is the above-pictured Michael Kors. His comments are often… colorful to say the least. “She’s a stripper from Dubai” is one of the more interesting observations he’s made.  It’s not uncommon for him to announce that something looks as though it’s trailing toilet paper, and he once said an outfit looked like “a molting turkey.”

The funny thing is, if you do your craft in front of people or give your work as gifts, sometime, somewhere, someone will say something that might have popped right out of Michael Kors’ mouth.

I once had someone watch me make lace for several minutes and then announce “If I go to Hell when I die, this is what they’re going to make me do.”

So how about you? What is the wildest, wackiest, most deranged thing anyone has said to you about your craft? I’m simply aching to know!

Free Patterns for Valentine’s Gifts

Friday, January 7th, 2011
By Twistie

via Berroco Fine Knitting Yarns

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner… in crafting terms. If there’s a special someone you would like to give a handcrafted expression of your affection, now is the time to get started. But what to do? My dears, the net is chockablock full of fun free craft patterns for nearly any technique your little heart desires. That’s right, every one of these pretties is a free pattern!

For instance, those charming knitted and felted hearts shown above? Are explained in detail in a free PDF from Berroco Fine Knitting Yarns. They’re easy and fast to make, but I bet someone would love to get one of these. I know I would!

But what if you’re not a knitter? Ah my lovelies, I haven’t forgotten about you. Read on and see what goodies I’ve found.


What’s Up, Williamsburg?

Thursday, January 6th, 2011
By Twistie

I visited Williamsburg, VA as a child of nine. I have, sadly, never managed to get back there. Still, it remains indelibly etched on my memory. It was the first place I ever went where living history was practiced, including crafts of the period. I was entranced. Funnily enough, my single strongest memory of the time I spent there (probably two or three days, all told) is of a silversmith with an amazingly long pinkie fingernail. I was in awe of that nail. I think of it every time I clip mine.


When not fetishizing fingernails, I was quite taken with the clothing, the way the cooking was done, and dozens of other everyday details of life in the eighteenth century. My brother the medieval historian was somewhat obsessed with the stocks and pillories while my brother the alpaca rancher would tell explain to everyone in great detail how, for instance, paper was marbled or glass was blown. He has an analytical mind and a passion for detail. He would watch a single artisan for a couple hours and then move on to the next one that caught his eye.

It’s those details of everyday life – and particularly everyday dress – that continue to captivate me. So imagine my delight when I went by the official website today and found that the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum has just announced an exhibit of costume accessories dating up to 1840!

If you check out the video here, you’ll get to see glimpses of all manner of fabulous goodies of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries: handkerchiefs, jewelry, leather pocketbooks, hats, gloves, stockings, and even ladies’ pockets (in the eighteenth century, women wore separate pockets under their skirts to carry things like purses and hankies). Whatever your crafting interest, you’re sure to see something to admire or inspire.

And if you get the chance to go and see the show, please tell me all about it.

Inspiration Gallery: Ribbon Embroidery

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011
By Twistie

This is ribbon embroidery, the art of taking lengths of ribbon and sewing them decoratively onto a background. I love ribbon embroidery. I think it’s a fun, imaginative craft with a lot of possibilities to it.

This particular piece is part of a series of lessons that used to be offered by Sharon B’s Pin Tangle, but she has, alas! ended the courses. Why? Because most people on seeing it either  say they couldn’t possibly do it or they don’t have the time to learn. But it doesn’t take longer to learn than many other crafts and while it offers many possibilities, I can’t imagine the basics take much more time and skill to learn than other forms of embroidery. The good news is that Sharon’s website dangles the possibility of a collection of her designs for sale if enough people show an interest.

So why should we be interested in learning ribbon embroidery? Take a look and see.


The Definition of Cool

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011
By Twistie

I love books. I’m a longtime biblioholic, in point of fact. As a child, I was known to spend time browsing the dictionary and the encyclopedia for fun. I sometimes think it would be fun to do that again.

CollageOrama has an Etsy site that could allow me to have just that sort of good time again, but with a twist. CollageOrama takes dictionaries that are about to be destroyed and upcycles them. Images of pages are printed on recycled paper and further images superimposed. I quite love the dress form above, but there are plenty of other fun images to choose from, such as this rather glorious Macaroni penguin

… or Marilyn Monroe, a T-rex skeleton, or dozens of other funny, charming, kitschy, or curious images. At $6.99 each, they’re quite a bargain, too!

Or are they inspiration?

Disclaimer: Manolo the Shoeblogger is not Manolo Blahnik
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